I came across a news release that discussed how ALL children are susceptible to concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), not just young athletes who play contact sports. In fact, young children are most at risk because they’re less capable of protecting themselves.
Child psychologists routinely ask new clients if the child has ever had a head injury/fallen and hit their head/been knocked unconscious, etc. This is a very important question for us as traumatic brain injuries can have serious implications. Knowing if this has occurred can be very helpful to us in developing recommendations for you and your child.
Here’s what you should know:
TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY– occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue.
Nearly half of TBIs in children result from falls.
CONCUSSION– minor traumatic brain injury (TBI) that may occur when the head hits an object, or a moving object strikes the head. Can occur during a fall, accident, sports, etc.
Symptoms of concussion can vary in severity from mild to severe and may include headaches, seeing flashing lights/”stars”, drowsiness, unusual eye movements, nausea, loss of consciousness. Symptoms may last for a few hours to several months, dependent on severity of injury.
It is imperative that a child who has had a concussion be:
1) removed from the event immediately, i.e. do not have the young athlete resume play.
2) seen by a doctor within 24 hours and receive a neurological exam (which may include MRI, CT Scan, etc.).
Long-term consequences of TBIs range based on severity and location of the injury. They can include difficulties with concentration, learning, memory, remaining alert for long periods, as well as physical and emotional problems. Thus, a child who has had a TBI may need academic, emotional, physical, or other supports at home/school. A psychologist trained in working with TBI can assist your child’s medical team with such recommendations.
Some injuries may be preventable! Ensure your child wears their seat belts when in vehicles and helmets when riding bicycles. You can teach your child bicycle safety and sport safety by clicking on the links.
For more information on concussions and traumatic brain injuries, check out the following:
Science Daily: Concussions Can Happen in All Kids, Not Just Athletes
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: Know Your Concussion ABCs – A Fact Sheet for Parents
Nationwide Children’s Hospital: An Educator’s Guide to Concussions in the Classroom
National Association of School Psychologists: Traumatic Brain Injury and Teens – Information for School Administrators
PubMed Health: Concussion